We have known about the Kartchner Caverns near Benson Arizona for a couple of years. The caverns came highly recommended, very highly recommended. You must have reservations to take a tour, a guided tour. This tour was placed high on our bucket list for this trip. Reservations nabbed, today was the day. Of course, I was saddened to hear they did not allow photos in the caverns, I understand, but, I was still saddened.
So, I will show you a few photos from the gardens, and you will just have to visit the caverns for yourself.
I will go so far to say, I guarantee you will not be sorry! Much has been learned over the years on how to protect caverns from our human curiosity. They have done much to protect the caves, such as installing two large vacuum type doors that are kept closed all the time. When you enter and leave the caves, you enter the first set of doors. When all visitors are in the chamber between the two doors, they close the first set, then, open the second set of doors allowing access to the cave or to the outside. On the way in they mist you down to settle any dander or dust that could infect the caves, they turn lights off and on as you proceed down the paths, no worry, you are not left in the dark. If you happen to touch the walls of the cave while you are in there, they mark the spot and make a note and someone comes back later to clean that spot.
**Photo of the caverns is available here, since I could not take my own photos and theirs are copyrighted, I can only provide you a link, go ahead, 'tis worth the trip over. This photo is of the Big Room.**
They had warned that you might feel claustrophobic but, I had no issues with that at all, on the tour we went on there were a few narrow passages, but, I have been in caves and caverns with much more narrow spots. The pathways were sometimes wet, NEVER slippery and were the most comfortable walkways I can remember in any cave. Level, wide enough, quite a few handrails where needed, this park and the cave tours are very well thought out. Oh, and the guide! Wonderful, knew his stuff, knew his cave and bats, well spoken, enunciation was no issue and he spoke loud enough to be heard, but, not excessive. As close to perfect as you could wish for.
**Another link, another photo, remember, copyrighted, so, only a link. This is a flowstone wall.**
One section of the cave is only open from October to April, that is the tour we took. Access is restricted (as in closed!) the rest of the year so as not to do harm or upset the bats during the reproduction stages. They even remove all lights, railings, and any other equipment in that area of the caves while the caves are closed to tourism. All the better to protect the baby bats. The caverns have not been open that long - they opened in 1999, very little human curiosity damage has been done. Both Man and I found it fascinating to learn how they are protecting the caverns.
**One last photo link, copyrighted and WOW!!**
So, first order was to have our packed lunch, we found this nice quiet spot in the gardens in the SUN! It was very nice, and the lunch was pretty good too.
The signage said this was a Mexican Flame Honeysuckle:
Every good garden needs some sculpture, this one was no exception. Artist and name not discovered by moi. See disclaimer below please.
This is Mexican Bush Sage, per the signage. It is soft, almost velvet like and quite tall, this particular plant was about 3 to 4 foot tall.
The state park also has a very nice campground, there are long pull throughs and sites have electric.
So, all told, our visit to Kartchner Caverns was deemed a huge success and delight. Now, we both want to go on that other tour, oh, dear, that means another trip back. What a shame!
*OKKK folks, I made a boo boo in the sculpture photo. It is NOT from the caverns, it is from friend Linda's home garden. I was tired when I wrote this, and I messed up. So, if you go looking at Kartchner, you won't find the horse. Sorry. So, enjoy it here on Reflections! LOL
Linda tells me, "It was made in Naco Mexico from scrap metal, no two are exactly alike... had it been sprayed with a coat of something, it would not be so rusty, but that sort of adds to it....time now to spray it, so it doesn't completely rust out."